Wilding conifer
Wilding conifers, also known as wilding pines, are invasive
Invasive species
"Invasive species", or invasive exotics, is a nomenclature term and categorization phrase used for flora and fauna, and for specific restoration-preservation processes in native habitats, with several definitions....

 tree species in the high country
High country (New Zealand)
High country is a New Zealand term for the elevated pastoral land of the South Island and - to a lesser extent - North Island of New Zealand. This terrain, which can be compared loosely with the outback of Australia, high veldt of South Africa and pampas of Argentina, lies in the rain shadow of the...

 of New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

. Millions of dollars is spent on controlling their spread.

In the South Island
South Island
The South Island is the larger of the two major islands of New Zealand, the other being the more populous North Island. It is bordered to the north by Cook Strait, to the west by the Tasman Sea, to the south and east by the Pacific Ocean...

, they threaten 210,000 hectares of public land administered by the Department of Conservation. They are also present on privately owned land and other public land such as roadsides. The wilding conifers are considered to be a threat to biodiversity
Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

, farm productivity and to landscape values. Since they often invade tussock grasslands
New Zealand tussock grasslands
Tussock grasslands form expansive and distinctive landscapes in the South Island and to a lesser extent in the central plateau region of the North Island of New Zealand...

 - which are characterised by low lying vegetation that is considered be to a natural environment
Natural environment
The natural environment encompasses all living and non-living things occurring naturally on Earth or some region thereof. It is an environment that encompasses the interaction of all living species....

 - the tall trees become a prominent and unwanted feature.


There are ten main species that have become wildings:
  • Bishop Pine
    Bishop Pine
    The Bishop Pine, Pinus muricata, is a pine with a very restricted range: mostly in the U.S. state of California, including several offshore Channel Islands, and a few locations in Baja California, Mexico...

     (Pinus muricata)
  • Corsican Pine (Pinus nigra)
  • Dwarf Mountain Pine
    Mountain Pine
    Pinus mugo, the Mountain Pine or Mugo Pine, is a high-altitude European pine, found in the Pyrenees, Alps, Erzgebirge, Carpathians, northern Apennines and Balkan Peninsula mountains from 1,000 m to 2,200 m, occasionally as low as 200 m in the north of the range in Germany and Poland, and as high...

     (Pinus mugo)
  • Lodgepole Pine
    Lodgepole Pine
    Lodgepole Pine, Pinus contorta, also known as Shore Pine, is a common tree in western North America. Like all pines, it is evergreen.-Subspecies:...

     (Pinus contorta)
  • Maritime Pine
    Maritime Pine
    Pinus pinaster, the Maritime Pine, is a pine native to the western and southwestern Mediterranean region. The pejorative name 'pinaster' is derived from pinus + aster, translating as 'a poor imitation of a pine' Pinus pinaster, the Maritime Pine, is a pine native to the western and southwestern...

     (Pinus pinaster)
  • Ponderosa Pine
    Ponderosa Pine
    Pinus ponderosa, commonly known as the Ponderosa Pine, Bull Pine, Blackjack Pine, or Western Yellow Pine, is a widespread and variable pine native to western North America. It was first described by David Douglas in 1826, from eastern Washington near present-day Spokane...

     (Pinus ponderosa)
  • Radiata Pine (Pinus radiata)
  • Scots Pine
    Scots Pine
    Pinus sylvestris, commonly known as the Scots Pine, is a species of pine native to Europe and Asia, ranging from Scotland, Ireland and Portugal in the west, east to eastern Siberia, south to the Caucasus Mountains, and as far north as well inside the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia...

     (Pinus sylvestris)
  • Douglas-fir
    Douglas-fir is one of the English common names for evergreen coniferous trees of the genus Pseudotsuga in the family Pinaceae. Other common names include Douglas tree, and Oregon pine. There are five species, two in western North America, one in Mexico, and two in eastern Asia...

     (Pseudotsuga species)
  • European Larch
    European Larch
    Larix decidua, common name European larch, is a species of larch native to the mountains of central Europe, in the Alps and Carpathians, with disjunct lowland populations in northern Poland and southern Lithuania.-Description:...

     (Larix decidua)

The various species dominate in different areas of New Zealand. Radiata Pine (Monterey Pine) is used for 90% of the plantation forests in New Zealand and some of the wilding conifer is a result of these forests.

Control measures

Without any control measures wilding conifers will spread over an increasing area with economic and environmental consequences. As well as volunteers organised by environmental groups, regional councils and the Department of Conservation invest in wild conifer removal.

A South Island Wilding Conifer Management Group was formed in 2006 and obtained funding from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (New Zealand)
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is the state sector organisation of New Zealand which deals with matters relating to agriculture, forestry and biosecurity...

 Sustainable Farming Fund.

Mechanical removal by hand pulling seedlings, and the use of brush cutters and chainsaw
A chainsaw is a portable mechanical saw, powered by electricity, compressed air, hydraulic power, or most commonly a two-stroke engine...

s are common control methods. Spray trials are also being carried out. In 2004 a spraying operation by the Department of Conservation at Mid Dome in the Southland Region
Southland Region
Southland is New Zealand's southernmost region and is also a district within that region. It consists mainly of the southwestern portion of the South Island and Stewart Island / Rakiura...

 caused spray drift onto surrounding areas including the towns of Athol
Athol, New Zealand
Athol is a small town in Southland, New Zealand. It is located 55 km south of Queenstown, half way between Lumsden and Kingston. The name of Athol, is rumored to be derived from either Harry Athol, the owner of the township's first public house, or after Athol, Perthshire, Scotland, the home...

 and Kingston
Kingston, New Zealand
Kingston is a small town at the southernmost end of Lake Wakatipu on the border of Otago and Southland, in New Zealand's South Island. It is 47 kilometres south of Queenstown by a road which winds between the lake to the west and The Remarkables mountains to the east...


Wilding conifers by region

Pest management is administered by regional council
Regional Council
Regional Council or regional council may refer to the following:*Regional Council *Regional Council, Hong Kong*Regional council *Regional Council - the Parliament of a Regione of Italy*Regional councils in New Zealand...

s. There are sixteen different regions in New Zealand
Regions of New Zealand
The region is the top tier of local government in New Zealand. There are 16 regions of New Zealand. Eleven are governed by an elected regional council, while five are governed by territorial authorities which also perform the functions of a regional council and thus are known as unitary authorities...

 and wilding confers only occur in a few of these regions, predominately in the South Island. The Department of Conservation manages wilding conifers on public land under its jurisdiction.


In its 2005 Pest Management Strategy the Canterbury Regional Council
Canterbury Regional Council
Canterbury Regional Council is the regional council for Canterbury, the largest region in the South Island of New Zealand. It is part of New Zealand's structure of local government...

 (Ecan) has the objective of eradicating all self sown wilding conifers in ecologically sensitive areas in its jurisdiction. To do this a range of measures are used, including carrying out wilding conifer control operations, encouraging reporting of the presence of wilding conifers, encouraging the removal of seed sources and advocating changes to the district plans of the territorial authorities to prevent or control the planting of inappropriate conifers.


Pinus contorta infests the south Marlborough area and is classed as a "Containment Control Pest", which are pests that are managed to prevent spreading to new areas. Other wilding species exist in Marlborough but Lodgepole Pine is the focus for pest management.


Pinus contorta is a pest plant listed in the Otago Regional Council
Otago Regional Council
Otago Regional Council is the regional council for the Otago region in the South Island of New Zealand. The council's principal office is Regional House on Stafford Street in Dunedin, with smaller offices in Queenstown and Alexandra....

 Pest Management Strategy for Otago


A major area of wilding conifer spread is in the Mid Dome Area in the Southland Region
Southland Region
Southland is New Zealand's southernmost region and is also a district within that region. It consists mainly of the southwestern portion of the South Island and Stewart Island / Rakiura...

. The Mid Dome Wilding Trees Charitable Trust was set up in 2006 and in 2008 the government allocated $54,000 from the Biodiversity Funds to control wildings on about 1000 ha in the area.

Further reading

(Individual chapters can be downloaded from the New Zealand Plant Protection Society)

External links

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